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August 10, 2008

MY 50TH BIRTHDAY FOLLOW-UP

Better late than never right? Hey most of you know I am building my BLOG from cool things I've found and experiences I have had. Well. here is yet another!

I wanted to send each of you a note personally but instead and given my lack of sleep and what appears to be a semi-permanent hangover, I thought I would re-cap my Birthday weekend and thank all of you for the gifts, the cards, the visits, the calls, the emails and for being my friends! ...oh and family. :--)) Actually I wish my family could have been here more than you know.

My Birthday celebrations actually started the evening of August 8th when my newest friend Sen-Sei took me out to Zuni to start celebrating a month early. A good start to be certain.

I have taken a good part of the month to mentally prepare...while I don't feel 50, hope I do not look it and or act it...(not sure what acting 50 really means actually) ...emotionally I have taken myself on a bit of a ride.

Anyway, I digress....the celebrations continued when (and for purposes of the remainder of the email I will simply use first names and no introductions as the email will then take too long for those of you who do not yet know the others. In time you will.)

Let's see celebrations continued and a few weeks ago my friend Angelique decided it was time for us both to face our fears! So she came over bearing gifts. Her fear? Moths and Butterflies. (Yes I know...Butterflies?) Mine is Spiders....YUK! So my gift from her was a framed Butterfly and a framed GIANT Tarantula...I'm still freaking out and attempting to face my fears each night when I return home. Deep Breath.

A week ago I received a call from D'Angelo in New York who asked my time and city of Birth and gave me the gift of an Astrological chart and reading for my Birthday. I have always wanted to do this. Friday I was on the phone with the Astrologer for over an hour....talk about a ride and a way to get my headed spinning. This is going to be a year.

The weekend started with various calls and cards. Then my friend Charisee was the first of out of town guests to arrive for the weekend. The plan was to eat dinner Friday night and then get up early and spend the day in NAPA tasting wine as she was a NAPA Virgin...Gwendolyn who works with us and is the master of Account Services gave me the wonderful gift of an all day town car for the day in NAPA. (AMAZING) The driver picked us up and we spent the next 12 hours (give or take) tasting, sipping, eating, sipping, tasting eating and sipping and tasting. Yes! I think that was the order. Our driver was awesome and in addition to the appointments I had scheduled, took us to Fleury and it was probably the single most fun experience I have ever had in the Valley. But the day began at Viansa where I was able to see my friend Josh Haberman, Joshua is a sommelier and a really good guy who has a company called 'Magic of Wine' he also works at Viansa and does wine classes, consulting and has taught my staff here on more than one occasion about wine. He kicked off the day in the cellar room at Viansa pouring the best wines they make. Next we went to Tra Vigne for lunch and then to Merryvale for a profile tasting and two barrel samples of the new upcoming releases, then to Quintessa for a tour and reserve tasting with cheeses. It was then we went to Fleury and from start to finish I smiled, laughed and tasted some killer reds, met some awesome folks and just had the most fun. Meritage, Cabernet's, Barrel Samples and you all MUST go here ASAP...take me with you or I'll take you....Eric you will love this place!!!! And it's our first stop on our next boys out tasting day.

We then went to my old Friend Gene Tartaglia's restaurant in Napa called BarBerQ...some of the best BBQ and other delights outside of Kansas City (And you all know I am picky about my meat).

We then got in the town car.

I do not remember the drive back or the order of things except that Charisee said I was 'amusing' The last thing I sort of recall was asking her around 9:30pm if she wanted to go out and do something...and I think she said her reply was "Yes!...But not with you." I was having a little trouble at that point getting words to hit my tongue correctly...I went to sleep...first in my bed till she kicked me off to the couch so she could crash. (NOTE: If any of you ever stay with me, the couch is not that bad but make sure your head faces South if you are over 5 foot tall...then your butt will not be on the crack of where the couches join together and you will sleeeeeep better) It was the third night...last night after the party that I discoverd this by the way.

Saturday morning we got up late and started out to find egg whites and toast...(Don't ask, it sounds gross to me too) We searched the Ferry building then we failed at that and ended up at noon at my favorite place for breakfast Yank Sing and Dim Sum!!!! YUM.

Afterwards I brought some Dim Sum To Go to James our Design Director who has been diligently working over the weekend to get Texas A+M ready for this Friday's Brand launch...then home to change and head to Napata's where many if not most of you were.

I cannot tell those of you who came by how much I appreciated seeing you....Andy and Christie came from San Diego and they brought Frank!....Charisee from LA, David Barber in Spirit and shared hangover from LA via Texas but only made it as far as Santa Barbara...I don't even want to know why he did not make it all the way up. (We'll discuss later). Daniel and Yulia Merriam, Sen-Sei, Maria from Sacramento, and my dear friend, actress, comedian and uber talent Hazelle from New York totally surprised me bringing me to tears!!! So cool.

Napata was the perfect hostess as always, and I met new friends and saw old friends. Alan who many of you met was there and is whom I credit with me actually moving to and living in California.

Napata hired a Cuban band, cooked a fantastic cuban dinner....wine and Mohito's flowed and most of you danced really well. Lou was there and still looks fantastic in pumps and we'll all be thinking of her Tuesday as she goes in for her next Surgery.

Napata and Eric both Sang, It was the third or 4th Birthday of mine where I have been blessed to have each of them sing to me. I now know what 50 burning candles looks like....can we say fire hazard?

And now it is Monday...took Charisee to the airport at 6am for her flight home. I am sitting here as I write this because she is at SFO...of course on a few hour delay..LOL Damn I could have slept south on my couch a few hours longer.

I got to the office at 6:45 this morning, a new personal best for me. At 8am Gretchen arrived and soon after Elisa and Sue and the guys and the rest of the gang are here and today I am very very excited to be winding up my celebrations with Gretchen having cooked my all time favorite meal from the old Prospect in Kansas City!!!! Curried Chicken, Prospect Salad and Mocha Fudge Cake! Yes with all the trimmings....we have good wine here and will be celebrating at noon! If you are in the area of the studio stop by for a sip or two.

I plan to celebrate tonight with my friend Amy whom I am meeting for dinner and this Thursday as I head once again to Texas I plan to hear your excuse Mr. Barber and celebrate with you, and we are having some more good wine and more good times as we seem to each time we go out.

In so many ways, I never expected 50 to look like this. In so many other ways it is everything I had hoped for. I am blessed to know each of you....everyone has friends in this life, but no one on this planet has this mix of friends and in that way I am very very fortunate.

Some of you as I said earlier called me (some even got the date correct), some emailed, some sent cards, some gave gifts, some cooked and some did all of it. But all of you are so special to me and I love for being my friends and yes family! You can't imagine the crap I get if I don't say that. :--)). And seriously all of you mean the world to me for thinking of me on my 50th.

I can't really express to you how grateful I am for sharing it in some way with me big or small.

For those of you who brought someone last night and would mind sharing their email address etc with me, I'd like to send them this email as well.

Have a wonderful week!!!!

-Mark
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